“What is the best way to deal with a dishonest, condescending, Machiavellian narcissist at work, whom I need to partner with to obtain my objectives?”

"Impact—Out of the Sandtrap" Lee Elder by Mimi Stuart ©

“Impact—Out of the Sandtrap” Lee Elder by Mimi Stuart ©

Preserve the narcissist’s self-image.

A true narcissist suffering from narcissistic personality disorder is predominantly concerned with his or her image and lacks empathy for others. So to have effective working relations, it becomes important not to shatter his or her image by implying that he or she is wrong or flawed. When narcissists are put on the defensive, they can become malicious without caring about the harm they cause others. So it is best to treat them with respect, even if it has to be feigned.

Appeal to the narcissist’s self-interest.

Avoid criticism, as a narcissist’s reaction to criticism can be extreme. Instead, start with flattery, and then phrase an objection delicately appealing to the narcissist’s public reputation, such as, “What if we considered doing it this way…? They would be impressed.” A narcissist wants more than anything to appear superior and to gain prestige. So motivate the narcissist by showing how your proposal will satisfy his or her interests. You may have to share credit. Chances are your superiors and those you work with will know whose idea it really was.

Protect yourself.

You need to be wary and protect yourself around a true narcissist. Be on your guard against sudden warmth and charm from the narcissist. It is likely to be a manipulative ploy to gain information and power. Don’t discuss any of your own weaknesses or vulnerabilities, and do not disclose any kind of secrets. Don’t gossip or say anything negative about other people. Anything you say can be used against you. Keep a very good paper trail.

This is not how you would want to relate with another person in a friendship or equal partnership, but it is the best way to be effective in a relationship that you are forced to have with a narcissist.

In essence, be respectful and diplomatic, but remain vigilant and protect yourself.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “Judgment: ‘My co-worker is an idiot.’”

Read Sam Vaknin’s “How can you tell a TRUE friend from a FAKE one?”

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